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The Lost Rose The Gentle Road Search The Back Streets Of Your Soul

DEE DEE JIMENEZ Above The RIM An American Countess Circle of Care 4 Kids Cover Photo by Tag Portraits

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WELCOME HOME Vietnam: The Silent Heroes We go through our daily lives surrounded by silent heroes. They are in our families, at our jobs, the supermarket, the streets, the churches. Wherever there is life, there is a silent hero waiting to be acknowledged, honored, appreciated and loved. We at TTW salute the silent heroes that have lived in the shadows of a shameful nation – a nation full of the walking wounded. A nation that blindly shunned the heroes that suffered in silence – in courage – in sadness.

AMERICA…STAND UP AND SALUTE OUR VIETNAM VETS. Open your hearts. Open up your arms and give them the honor they are due. These proud men gave their lives for their country. For the ones that returned, they were spit on and shunned. This treatment is one of the darkest moments in American history. But it is never too late. Darkness gains power only through ignorance. If your back is facing darkness, turn and see the light of these shinning souls. Lift your hands and applaud our Vietnam Vets.

STAND UP! Give them a standing ovation of the heart. Mourn their loss but honor their courage.

WELCOME HOME VIETNAM VETERAN We are sorry as a nation…we ask your forgiveness and will forever lift your spirits towards heaven in a sigh of gratefulness. The greatest healer is love. The greatest love is family. Welcome home Vietnam Vet … you are finally home. Forgive our ignorance and accept our apology. May you experience the healing peace of forgiveness.

In Loving Gratitude

“IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE REPORTER, WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE POET, WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF SPEECH. IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE CAMPUS ORGANIZER, WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM TO DEMONSTRATE. IT IS THE SOLDIER, WHO SALUTES THE FLAG, WHO SERVES BENEATH THE FLAG, AND WHOSE COFFIN IS DRAPED BY THE FLAG, WHO ALLOWS THE PROTESTER TO BURN THE FLAG.” FATHER DENNIS EDWARD O’BRIAN US MARINE CORPS – 1970

– THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

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He gave me a gift I would carry into eternity...

Written by Freya Pruitt I have always had a problem sleeping. I don’t know why, but there was always a sense of unrest when my head hit the pillow. So, one cold rainy night when everyone was sleeping, I decided to go to the attic to do a little organizing. Each stair creaked as I ascended into a damp and dusty room. In the far corner under the eves, was a tiny window illuminated by the storm’s lightning. I sat down on a small stool and began to go through some dusty boxes. As the thunder continued to crash, a bolt of lightning seemed to send a stream of light directly onto a small golden box hidden under some family photos. I never imagined what that box would hold and how it would solve a forgotten mystery I had suppressed my entire life. As I opened the box, my hands began to shake. Buried below some yellowed tissue paper, I discovered a single, red rose. Suddenly everything stopped around me. It was like the world disappeared. I could no longer hear the thunder or see the lightning. As I picked up the rose, all I could feel was the pounding of my heart. I clutched the rose in my hands and held it to my chest. I absolutely could not move. It felt like I was in a warm, all encompassing cloud. Then I heard someone calling to me. Somewhere, way out in the distance, I heard a very young voice call out my name. Everything seemed to disappear around me: then I heard my heart speak the words that would change my life forever: “I never left you. Even death could not part us…” At first I was afraid, but suddenly all the pictures I had hidden in my mind came rushing back to me. I remembered everything: your face, your voice, your touch…everything. I began to sob uncontrol-

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lably. Why had this all come back to me at this moment in time—why now?! In a split second I received my answer: when you left, I lost a piece of myself, and you were there to give it back to me. It was finally my time to remember and let go. But how could I do such a thing? We were supposed to be each others’ destiny—how could you have betrayed me? Where had you gone? I cried out to God— “I don’t WANT to remember, Father. This is too hard…help me!” I have never felt so much sorrow, as buckets of tears streamed down my face. But within minutes, tears turned into thoughts, and thoughts turned into memories. It was like an angel was whispering in my ear, and I was supposed to remember every last detail. Who knows how God orchestrates His intentions: maybe it’s in a sound, a laugh, or in a cold and lonely tear. But at that moment, I surely knew: every tear, every laugh, every kiss we shared was pre-ordained. How could I know? Well, it began with a rose: a single, red rose… the lost rose. But that rose had come back to me! As I held it in my hands, I knew with every fiber in my being, I had to remember, to fulfill our destiny. This was the moment I would remember who I was. This was the moment I would remember you. This was the moment I would understand the purpose of our destiny, and this was the moment I would no longer be afraid. And then it started. It was like I was watching a moving picture. I saw a little girl sitting on her front porch rocking back and forth on the swing. She slowly turned to me and smiled. She said she had something to show me. I knew then, it was me. I felt my little body take its rightly place on the swing. As I watched the sun go down behind the hills, I heard the sound of a “familiar” voice coming from my neighbors’ yard. I had never seen the little boy before, but somehow I knew his voice. It called out


to me in a soft, loving way. “Hey, little girl! Do you like flowers?” I froze on my front doorstep. Dare I turn around and answer? At that moment, I knew I had no choice! I turned to the little boy next door and said: “Of course I do! What girl doesn’t like flowers?” Then, with the cowardice of youth, I immediately ran back into my house and hid behind the living room couch. About a minute later, I heard that same familiar voice say: “Hey, don’t you want your flower?” I don’t know why, but at that moment, I felt my best friend was calling to me. Without hesitation, I went to the screen door and opened it. “Hi”, I said. “Would you like to come in?” He, without hesitation, boldly entered my living room and took my hand. “Here”, he said. “Here is your rose. I picked it for you: just for you.” After the sensation in my knees returned, I thanked him and lightly gave him a peck on the cheek. As he raced back to the safety of his house, I felt a mysterious sense of joy, and I knew in my spirit I had found my soul mate. But, how could that be? I had never seen him before, or had I? It is really hard to explain, but even as a little girl, I knew instantly who he was. I felt in my entire being a comfort I had never experienced before. When I met him, I was somehow home. Somehow, we had found each other again. He was the boy that would define love for me and teach me what love truly was. He was the boy that gave me my first rose, and with that rose, taught me the meaning of forever. He gave me a gift I would carry into eternity. He defined love for me. And that love has stayed with me throughout my life. When we were together, his love kept me safe. He was the one I depended upon, and in the end, he became me, and I became him. There really wasn’t much difference where I began and he ended. It was just the way it was. It was just love. It was just a rose. But that simple rose became the canvas that painted my entire life. Its seed remained planted in my heart, and its’ harvest would never die. Sadly, no other flower would ever compare. Many years have passed, and many seasons have come and gone. But there is not one single moment, especially when the leaves begin to change and the snow begins to fall, I don’t remember that first rose. When the snowflakes are large

and wet, I begin to yearn for spring: for the birth of a new rose. But I know I will never find it. I know now, you did not leave me by choice. I know now, even death cannot kill love. You came back to set me free. You came back to show me forever is real. You came back to say good-bye and set me free. Now I know you loved me, now I can say…goodbye. So, in the quiet moments before the dawn, before my children and husband awake, I say good-bye to the lost rose. Yes, it is just a memory, but it cannot die. It will live on forever. You will live on forever: We will live on forever. For with that single rose, you gave me the gift of love. You gave me the gift of beauty, the gift of innocence. We found each other by God’s divine purpose. And, once again, you have reminded me that I am missing nothing. I found my answer by climbing the attic stairs one cold and rainy night. I found my answer hidden in a small gold box. I found my lost rose. Because of you, I am now free. I have finally found peace. I have stopped searching. I know I will never be alone again. I have found the lost rose…at last. You taught me love cannot die. Your love for me has transcended time, and pain, and sorrow—even death itself. I know you are looking down on me from heaven. Our destiny has been fulfilled at last. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for loving me: loving me enough… to set me free.

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The Story of Dee Dee Jimenez Written by Freya Pruitt What do you think of when you look at this beautiful woman? Surely her beauty would demand a yacht in San Trope. Her eyes would demand being lathered in Dom Perignone while delicately nibbling on the finest caviar. Her lips would demand the greatest praises coming from her adoring fans. Her heart would demand all of heaven opening up its loving arms and welcoming this glorious creature. Beauty demands adoration and service. But in Dee Dee’s case all of the above is what she desires to give other people! Welcome to the world of the personification of the term Superwoman. Welcome to the world of Ms. Dee Dee Jimenez who works for Thomas Enterprises as the Operations Manager of approximately 2 million square feet of the greatest city within a city: The Rim Shopping Center in San Antonio, Texas. When you enter The Rim you will be in awe of its size, and, at the same time, its sense of intimacy. That intimacy can be attributed to its queen: Dee Dee. She is a true people person. Her intent is to do the very best job for everyone, absolutely everyone! No matter how big or small a job, she will fiercely face it with dignity and determination. She approaches the looming corporate world with a warm and loving heart. The Rim is truly a city within a city. The size of this “city” could be daunting, but doesn’t a “city” consist of its own people? Major corporations are made up of people. Restaurants and hotels are run by people, and the local operations of the day-to-day duties at The Rim are run by Dee Dee. As Operations Manager, Dee Dee’s daily activities include dealing with corporate, working closely with merchants and business owners, keeping her finger on the retailer’s pulse to know how their retailers are performing, as well as managing day to day operations for security, maintenance, contractors (progress on construction), and showing space for prospective clients. When you enter her office you may find her on the phone with “corporate” assisting with negotiating a major contract. You may find her dealing with a retailer about a roof leak, overseeing a build out, dealing with The City of San Antonio,

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welcoming a new merchant as they sign their lease, or simply trying to make everyone happy—all at the same time! Simply put, if it’s raining Dee Dee will find the umbrellas! If the sun is shining she will get the suntan lotion. Her job involves wearing many hats, but she seems to handle it all with style and grace. Retail is definitely a business that requires that you to look the part, have style and presence, but at the same time someone who can get the job done! There are so many facets in managing the operations for such a large development, but somehow this young lady seems to handle it with such style and grace, and makes it seem effortless. But how does one person do all of this? Where does she get the


energy and determination? Does Dee Dee stop and consider failure an option, or is she so involved in the moment and the task at hand that failure becomes a mere illusion? I assure you it is the latter! Let’s all look again at this beautiful woman. Look at that gorgeous smile. What does it say to you? We have to be careful of stereotyping beautiful women. We have to step past their outer beauty and consider the inner beauty that is the true manifestation of the outer. The treasure chest of Dee Dee’s power lies in the power of her heart. You can see it in her eyes and in everything she touches. In her career she has worked with many retailers and various charities to help promote awareness including the Go Red for Woman Campaign, for example. She has helped retailers with creating fashion shows that benefit the American Cancer society, and she has volunteered with children’s organizations to help raise money for their causes. In Dee Dee’s words, “Community involvement and giving back is so important. It is so rewarding to help others!” I was fortunate to meet her beautiful mother the day we shot the cover at the Günter Hotel. I asked her mother to describe her daughter. Without hesitation she replied, “Dee Dee is the dearest, kindest, sweetest person I know. She is so loving, so giving. I raised my children essentially on my own. They were raised with a true sense of family and love. I am close to all of them, but I am amazed at what Dee Dee has accomplished. I am so proud of her.” As Dee Dee’s mother spoke, I watched Dee Dee’s reaction. She seemed a little uncomfortable. To me, her uneasiness was a sign of sincerity and humility. I have always believed humility is where a great work ethic is born. If we are only concerned with ourselves, we are not thinking about the welfare of others. Humility is strength and unending power. The power of the heart births humility and the beauty of the heart is all over Dee Dee’s beautiful face. I asked Dee Dee to tell me about her fiancé, David. She beamed as she showed me her beautiful engagement ring. “David is so sweet and loving. David is my gift. He is totally supportive; he would do anything for me. I feel so loved,” she said. “We met and knew immediately that he was the person I was destined to be with.” Her mother smiled and immediately added, “I am totally at peace with this relationship. I totally trust David. He has a wonderful family. Dee Dee has finally found her soul mate. She is blessed.” When I spoke with David he proudly stated, “I'm very proud and lucky to have Dee Dee in my life. I must admit that I have waited 33 years for this moment to be with her. We have both endured the test of time and distance. This leaves me with no doubt that our love is strong and true. I'm excited about starting our lives together”. Wow! Love really IS an amazing thing! Maybe all this corporate Superwoman stuff pales in comparison with the power of the heart! Or does the phenomenon of “Superwoman” COME from the heart? Wow! What if love IS the answer to a powerful woman?! That’s a different perspective! What if a beautiful woman like Dee Dee can have it all? Well, dear readers, I am honored to tell Dee Dee’s story because she is living proof that a woman CAN have it all! But make no mis-

take; her talent, dedication, and power are fueled by love. Dee Dee is a woman of great faith: “I believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we have to stumble and take paths that are not always easy, but in the end I believe that God has a plan for all of our lives. I believe I am right where I am supposed to be.” I’m sure we’d all agree that the world stereotypes women in general. Powerful women are stereotyped as non-feminine and non-feeling. Many religions still believe a woman should be at home and not building a career, that they are not equipped to do both. But consider this: Didn’t God’s love create the very talents these powerful women are intended to use? I feel it is disrespectful to turn ones back on a god-given talent. God’s love is more powerful than any opinion a person could ever conjure up! I can’t imagine why God would endow a person with talent and gifting if He didn’t want them to use them! Somehow, Dee Dee has transcended the world’s opinion of a powerful woman and BECOME a powerful and successful woman! As you look into the eyes of this beautiful woman, I believe you will see the very creation I am referring to. I think Dee Dee is the perfect example of today’s total modern woman. She is on her way to having it all. Her skills involve many years in retail management throughout the country. She held a highly respected position in a Fortune 500 company and previously managed The Alamo Quarry and Quarry Crossing in San Antonio before she was asked to manage The Rim. She is skilled as an interior decorator, and has the desire to be a mom. She is getting married this spring in Santa Fe, New Mexico to the love of her life. I believe we would all agree that Dee Dee is a great example to women all around the world. If we are totally truthful, we’d probably agree that we are all just about the same. One woman’s sadness is the same as another’s. One woman’s triumph and happiness can compassionately lift the desperation of another woman’s spirit. The example of a great, powerful, and successful woman can inspire and encourage the broken spirit of a sister in need of inspiration. After all is said and done, the greatest teacher always leads by example. I can honestly say I have never seen a “broken” Dee Dee. I have seen a tired Dee Dee, but never a broken spirit. Her love of people keeps her focused on success. She has a genuine need to attack each day with a sense of courage and honor. She always excels far beyond what is asked. Her amazing beauty coupled with the demand of her job is a rare phenomenon. She is the personification of Today’s Texas Woman. We salute you Dee Dee Jimenez. We lift our hands and applaud your determination, your spirit, and your loving heart. May God continue to bless your life and may you continue to be an inspiration to all women. You have broken the stereotype that beauty is only skin deep. Your beauty is reflected in everything you touch. You have led by example and by doing so have enlightened the lives of everyone who knows you. May the light in your eyes shine through America, encouraging all women to be the best they can be. Let all women know when they look at the beautiful cover that the word “no” is just a word! Let your smile continue to lead them to the ultimate answer: “YES-I-CAN!”

David and Dee Dee

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TTW at the Marriott Grand Opening...

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By Freya Pruitt Most of us never stop to consider how we would be affected if we suddenly lost our spouse. We go through each day usually getting caught up in the hypnotic routine of life. We fall in love, get married, and have children and careers. Some of us live charmed lives and some have it tough, really tough. I guess I fall into the latter. But I am lucky; God blessed me with a strong spirit. I value loyalty and honor, but above all else I value love. I am a person of great faith. I am passionate about life and the welfare of others. I consider myself a strong person. However, I was not prepared for grief; I

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could not believe an emotion so strong could control my entire life. It was as if it had its own power source. It would materialize out of nowhere. Memories, thoughts and feelings could paralyze me in a split second. The closest experience I could compare it to would be falling in love. Do you remember the butterflies in your stomach? That glorious feeling when you fall into each other’s arms? Do you remember the sensation of your heart pounding with pure, passionate joy? That feeling kept drawing you into one another. The two of you became the entire world and every-

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thing around you seemed to vanish. There was an overwhelming desire to be together, always then forever. No one forgets that feeling. It never occurred to me that such great love could end up having such a tragic ending. After all, that type of love story only happens in the movies! Unfortunately, I learned the hard way. Great love has a flip side, grief. And grief always has its own agenda. Grief has its own method of operation. It materializes right out of your subconscious. Every second of every life experience that has been stored in our personal “safe” is suddenly exposed. I learned quickly that no one is immune to a thief in the night. I was caught completely off guard. I have experienced three great loves in my life, for this I am truly blessed. Many people never experience it at all. But in three loves and three marriages, I can assure you I only had one true husband. He died on our anniversary, September 19, 2007—we had been married for 17 years. I do not believe in coincidences; I have never been loved like that before and I never loved another human being so completely. It truly was like we were one person, one flesh, one soul. No, we never lost our identities—they just metamorphosed into the reflection of each other. My husband had been very ill and was in the throes of a full-blown mid-life crisis. He “hit the road” just before Christmas. In my opinion, he ran to have some good old-fashioned fun. God only knows what he told his family. Whatever it was, he had them convinced that he was no longer happy. The close relationships I shared with his family went up in smoke in the blink of an eye. My husband had the gift of gab and he was VERY convincing. His family never spoke to me again. I have accepted the reality that only my husband, I, and God, will ever know the real truth. I only wish someone would have listened to me. Maybe if they knew how ill he was, they could have held him accountable for his destructive behavior. Maybe he would be alive today. The facts speak for themselves; we were married for 17 years and up until the time he left, we had only spent three days apart. Eight months after his departure he was dead. His family never even let me know about his funeral. He had a massive heart attack on September 19, our anniversary. He was already dead when the paramedics took him to the hospital, but he was put on life support. The plug was pulled the next day—he no longer had any brain activity. No one even called me to let me know or asked me about his personal wishes. It was


all over in a few days. About a month before Reggie died, he called me and said: “Freya, I love you. I did you a favor.” Then he hung up. I did not know what to think, as he had spoken the most hateful and hurtful things to me. This, by the way, was totally out of character for him. My mother who knew him really well made a valid point. She said: “He tried to make you hate him; he tried to push you away so you would no longer care about him.” Well, it did not work. When love is that powerful it takes on its own life; it seems to have its own power, its own destination. That type of love knows when to let go for the good of the other half. My husband loved me enough to let me go, to run as fast as he could, to save me from his demise. I loved him enough to let him go, to do what he had to do. Little did he know, my heart would have been so grateful just to hold him, to have been able to say goodbye. I have accepted the painful fact that I will have no closure. Reggie is gone and that absolutely terrifies me. I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. My aching tears come from a place so deep inside me I fear, if they do not cease, I might drown in sorrow. What I am about to tell you will sound like fiction, but, I assure you, it is the truth. For two days before I heard the news about his death, I could smell a man’s cologne all around me. Wherever I went—whether I was in the market, the laundry mat, the drugstore, or my house— it was there. No, it was not his scent, but it was a man’s cologne. I smelled my clothes, my car, my jacket but I could never identify where it was coming from. There was just this scent in the air. I eventually dismissed it—until the next day. I was sitting with my dear friend Amber at eleven o’clock on a Sunday night. The phone rang and I heard my stepdaughter’s voice say, “Mom?” I said, “Elizabeth?” Then, without hesitation, I said, “Is your father dead?” She kept telling me to sit down but I kept asking “is your father dead?” Then she told me the news, five days after it happened. It still is fascinating to me how two people can be so spiritually connected. I knew in a split second when I heard her voice. I knew he was dead. You may be wondering why I am telling you this story at Valentine's Day. Is this story too personal or too sad? I don't think so. I assure you, dear friends, there are thousands of people all around the world at this very moment that are not able to celebrate Valentine's Day—they

Great love has a flip side, grief... are only able to mourn. There is no book or college course to prepare you for the shock and impending grief of losing a loved one. The only comfort these people can receive is the cathartic encouragement from someone who has lived it and survived it. If my personal story can touch one person, can lift one wounded heart, then it is worth telling. For the fortunate who have not had to endure this kind of pain, I hope you know how blessed you are. I want you all to know how much I love publishing this magazine. It is my heart’s intention to touch people’s lives and cause positive change in our communities. At this very special time of the year, I hope you know how honored I am to serve you. If I could give you all just one gift it would be love. It would be the ability to recognize and value love. It would be the gift of time, the gift of second chances, and the gift of having the opportunity to do it all over again. Sadly, we all know that second chances do not come around too often; they exist in our memories, pull at our heartstrings and mourn what could have been. Yes, I have been through the “should of- would of-could of’s.” I have gone over them time and time again. In the end, after all the tears and pain, it just winds up being: “IT IS WHAT IT IS.” It is just LOVE. It is not important what anyone else thinks or believes. Love has its own memory and its own truth. It has its own eyes: love sees a person’s soul and recognizes its value. Love cares and honors. It will teach us how to live, give, and how to be grateful for that special person in our lives. After all, it is in the blink of an eye that everything we value

can be taken away. So remember, in the quiet hours before dawn, as you lay next to the love of your life remember to appreciate the sound of their breathing, to bask in the warmth of their hand touching your neck. Secretly smile as you gently fall back to sleep with their warm back giving you comfort. The simple things are the most profound. It is there, in the gentle mist of a solemn tear. It is there in the silence. It is there you will feel the presence of God. Be grateful for what He has given you. For it is in gratefulness and thanksgiving that we will find the gift. But what good is a gift if we do not give it away? Silver and gold cannot compare to the purity and honor of loving another. The power of the gift dwells in your heart. The power of the heart is where love lives on forever. Believe in each other. Hold on with all your might and fight to keep the gift you gave each other. Be loyal, be strong, and be steadfast. Never break the invisible thread that binds you together. When you lie down your life for the honor of loving another, you insure the safety of your own heart. For even if it is broken, every heart can be mended. “As long as you both shall live” takes on a different meaning when you experience the death of a loved one. It is no longer an illusion of loss; it is the reality of desire and what could have been. When one’s breath is gone, it is just too late. Take the gift, wrap it up, and then give it away. Once it has been given, no one—not even God—can take it back. Do not be afraid to love, for you can never lose what you never had.

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RESTORING FAMILIES... ONE CHILD AT A TIME We can’t imagine what it must be like to have a child who is in desperate need of care. Hospitals are frightening and intimidating both for children and parents. Private facilities can also be impersonal and daunting. So, what is the answer? Where is a child most comfortable? Home of course. But how do we find that care? What will it cost? Will my child get the care he deserves and desperately needs? Can he receive this care in the comfort and peace of our own home?

Welcome to the answer! Circle of Care 4 Kids...

Cristen Gassen – CEO “Founded Circle of Care after much thought and prayers. I realized there was a great need for nursing and rehabilitative services for children with medical disabilities and developmental delays. I wanted to serve my community and create a highly sophisticated in home care program strictly for children. I love each and every one of these children. I believe this is my calling in life.”

The state of the art answer to restoring health and family!

Call us today!

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Servicing San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Surrounding Areas Coming So on To Dallas!

Circle of Care is a Pediatric Home Healthcare Agency licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Circle of Care is in its fourth year of business. Circle of Care is a female owned and operated home healthcare agency. Circle of Care provides skilled nursing, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational, respite care, and personal assistance services to children from birth through 20 years old. Circle of Care is one of the largest pediatric home health services agencies in the state of the Texas.

PHYSICAL THERAPY: Balance and Walking, Sitting, Crawling, and Lower Extremity Functioning.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: Writing/Cutting/Coloring, Hand-Eye Coordination, Self-Help Skills, Upper Extremity Functioning, and Reaching.

SPEECH THERAPY: Developmental Delays, Speech Delays, Autism, Hearing Impairments, Augmentative Communication, Voice Disorders, Feeding and Swallowing Difficulties, and Other Speech and Language Problems

Circle of Care provides the full spectrum of therapeutic rehabilitation services

Visit our website!

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enormous courage, integrity, and the inheritance of a noble title. This is the true story of what a person can achieve in the greatest country of all, America. This is the true story of my mother: Countess Luba Lebedev Tcheresky—the Countess with an invisible crown. Luba’s story started many years ago in a small Polish town called Molodova. Luba was born into the icy cold but also into the loving hands and heart of her mother Katherine Lebedev, or, should I say: “Countess Katherine Lebedev.” Luba’s first memories go back to days on her grandfather’s estate: The estate of Count Ivan Lebedev. Luba was responsible for walking the ducks home before dark.

by Freya Pruitt Part Two of Six When our children are born we are overwhelmed with the miracle of life, of love, of enormous responsibility. But, the truth is, we do not know what life has in store for these wondrous beings. We hold them, laugh with them, cry with them, rock them, and in the end would lay our lives down for them. Their future is the greatest mystery of all. Our past is a memory frozen in time, unable to escape our minds but also unable to live again. It is up to these young ones to carry the torch and survive the odds that are stacked against them. Everyone on Earth has a story, but this little girl’s story is of the American Dream. She is the example of the greatest gift America has to offer—its people. This is the story of

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She remembers her grandparent’s love and how she loved life on the farm. Little did she know, her mother Katherine had already escaped the Bolsheviks when she jumped on the last train leaving Poland. She fled with her two eldest children to make a new life in America.


My grandmother always said she never smiled until the day she was able to hold her beloved Luba again. But, little did she know, Luba was happy where she was! Luba, the little girl, knew nothing of the Bolsheviks, war, death, or devastation. She was safe and happy. After all, she was only four years old. She knew nothing other than peaceful bliss. Luba knew nothing about her heritage and being of Russian nobility. She knew nothing about being a countess, up until the day she was pulled, screaming, from a dock in Russia and put on a ship headed for America—alone, at eight years old. Luba recalls her first memory: “A big family— lots of cousins, lots of children to play with. We were always playing games above the hayloft, above the cows, playing hide and seek. One day I was jumping and fell through the rafters, through the hay—I fell on top of a cow. It let out one loud “Moo!” That was such a wonderful time. My grandfather was so joyful, standing on his head on the ground outside, always kidding with us. He put me on a horse at age five, bareback and riding. I fell off once and landed directly on a nail. I started screaming but he just calmly pulled it out and put me back on the horse! We laughed over it. We always had incredible home remedies that nobody ever heard of in America. We had no doctors. Grandma passed down many home remedies. We would go out in the yard, gather weeds, and make a poultice that would always heal our wounds. Nobody knows how to do that today. I believe that is where all medicine came from.” “We had a huge oven and coal burning stove. I used to crawl up and sleep on the flat top where it was warm, always warm. It was absolutely huge. I remember riding through the fields where the elderly were using scythes and cutting down grass. They would load the hay into wagons with horses. I would ride all the way home. I was four years old. My chore was to walk the duckies home (with a stick) before dark. Everybody would work: the elderly, women, everyone worked. It was common for a woman to have a baby in the field, bundle it up until she finished her work, and then go home! Grandmother made a doll out of clothes and rags. It was the only doll I ever had. Our estate was too far out of town to ever shop. We had to make good with what we had.

I remember screaming when I tasted my first banana in America! It was an experience I never had before!” “My grandparents kept sending pictures of me to my mother in America, until I could go to be with her. All of a sudden at the age of five, I was put on a big wagon to go into Warsaw. I thought it was for a trip, but I was put in a convent. I wanted to be with my grandparents. At that time, the American authorities demanded a child had to have some schooling before they came to America. The nearest place was Warsaw—I stayed there three years. I learned how to say the rosary, learned Catholicism. I wasn’t Catholic. We were Russian Orthodox. I learned beautiful Polish— friends used to come over to my mother’s house on Sundays just to hear me speak.” “One time, I remember taking some papers and throwing them on the floor. I wouldn’t pick them up. I wouldn’t do it. My punishment was to go to Chapel and say 100 rosaries. I hated it. That was the last time I’d ever see my grandparents for some time. Three years went by. I was now eight. My grandparents came for me and I thought they were taking me home, but they took me to the

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port of Gdansk. A paper was put around my neck. I was left standing on the dock screaming and crying, "I don’t want to go to America! I want my grandparents!” Grandfather told me my mother had sent for me and I had to go. That was the last time I ever saw him.” “During the Polish-Bolshevik war, we had an estate in Meladova-Provence of Ivanova. It was actually Belarus, or White Russia. Grandfather managed other estates when it was briefly occupied by the Russians. We were Russians up until 1919—until the Bolsheviks took it over. They were only in power about 90 days, between July and October, 1920. Then Poland took back their country. It was then that my mother finally escaped to Siberia where she met my father, a highly ranked officer in the military. She desperately wanted to find her parents in Meladova and my father was instrumental in helping her. They took off together with my two sisters and their treasured cow and walked across Siberia to

search for her parents. I still can imagine my courageous mother walking across Siberia with her samovar strapped to her back, trudging through the snow, walking the “steppes” of Siberia—back to Poland to find her parents.” “My mother had six brothers all of which were killed by the Bolsheviks. She miraculously found her parents but returned to complete devastation. Her mother told her about an older aunt who was already in America, in Detroit, Michigan. It was then decided that Ma-Ma would go to America to start a new life. I was just a baby and too young to travel, so Grandfather said that Ma-Ma would send for me at a later date. It was imperative that my mother kept her lineage to herself. It was common knowledge that the Bolsheviks would travel to America—anywhere—to search out and kill the Russians who had escaped. She wouldn’t dare let anyone know who she really was. She lived underground in her own Russian community in Detroit. The Bolsheviks would have searched out my grandparents and killed them also.

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So our nobility status has remained a secret—up until now.” “I vividly remember the day I was taken to the huge ship. It was The White Star Line. My mother hired a woman to take care of me on the ship. I was supposed to go first class. I had a tag; she had a tag, but I never saw her again. She never took care of me. I cannot remember where I slept on

the ship. I remember playing with some kids, just about slipped overboard a few times, but I was mostly on my own until I got the chicken pox and had to get off in London for treatment. I remember the captain used to take me to his cabin and give me raisins. I stayed in the London hospital a good five days. I stayed in a room with two English kids; they were so nice. Then, when I was well, I was put on another ship and remember landing on Ellis Island. As the huge ship entered New York Harbor there was The Statue of Liberty. She was so proud holding her torch, welcoming us. As the ship passed the amazing woman in the sea, everyone was standing at the rails in awe. “Give me your tired your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breath free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these-the homeless tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Everyone was crying - it was just like you see in the movies.” “The captain took me off the ship and presented me to my mother and stepfather. I just looked at them with a blank stare. I really didn’t know them. The captain asked me how I knew she was my mother and I said, “Because she has the same space between her two front teeth.” They took me by the hand and ushered me through the huge gates. I felt so small. I was cold and afraid. I entered Ellis Island alone. I was surrounded by hundreds of strangers. I didn’t understand what was happening. I just did what I was told to do. As the huge gates closed behind me I never looked back--not even once-not one last time.” Join us for part three of “An American Countess!” Discover how this little girl went alone through the red tape of Ellis Island. Look back in time and discover the rules of immigration and how these laws have mostly disintegrated. Get to know this Russian family who proudly earned their citizenship. Follow this little girl as she became an American citizen and eventually a famous opera singer who was considered one of the greatest dramatic sopranos of all time. History buffs, you don’t want to miss this one!

Join us in our next issue of Today’s Texas Woman as we continue our six part feature series that tells the true life story of Countess Luba Tcheresky.

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By Freya Pruitt

Dear Readers, America is going through some challenging times. The homeless population has spread to Middle America and has crossed all cultural and economic boundaries. We must as a nation stand together and help one another. This article was originally published two years ago at Christmas. The problem has only worsened. Because of this new cycle of homelessness, I felt it prudent to run it again. We all need to step up and help one another for the better good of all. Freya Pruitt Editor in Chief

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Search the backstreets of your soul. Walk through the shadows of your lost dreams, and experience the darkness of so many people that suffer in silence. Search the backstreets of your soul. Look deep inside at hidden secrets that control what used to be you. Wipe the sweat off your back as you toss humanity’s need into the sea. Is blindness a desire or an excuse? Not caring is the final abuse to the human heart. Is the holiday spirit an illusion or just a brief intrusion to the truth? Are you afraid you will lose something you never had? Are you afraid to reach out to the guilty, to the lost, to the sick, to the dirty? Are you afraid of your own reflection as you pass these people in the streets? All of the abused, the abusers, the castaways, the thieves, the beggars—all of them are someone’s precious children. All of them were born to some-

one who wanted to love them, maybe they just didn’t know how. Maybe they ran into the rain and never looked back. Even now, their heart eternally aches for the loss of their own innocence. Secretly in silence, they mourn the loss of the unsuspecting soul they brought into this cold and lonely world. Both souls share the darkness, both are affected for the rest of their lives. They search for a healing word, a gentle touch, a helping hand. But the secret stays buried in the darkness, held captive by the secret itself. The emptiness carves a path in a darkened heart that defines the greatest lie of all: darkness is power…it will never go away. If they only knew there is freedom in light. After all, darkness is only dark when you give it life. The light in true life is constantly burning and illuminating a million hours of second chances. Life has a light that burns eternal—it can never go out. It lives in the light of a child’s eyes and burns like fire, burning brighter and brighter, desperately crying out just to be acknowledged. If you have never experienced that light, take a moment to reflect: you might like what you see. If you can’t remember that light, if you can’t remember its warmth and healing power, go into a quiet place and light a soothing candle. Consider who you truly are. Create a peaceful moment and pray. Pray for all lost souls who have no one this holiday season. Look into the warm flame and remember who you are. Remember that you are no

different than the people you shun, or the people who shun you. Light a candle and lift it towards heaven. Let a tear of gratefulness spill down your cheek. Pray for the people who do not have a bed, who do not have a family, who do not have anyone to love them. Pray that you will be the candle that burns brightly in a lonely sea. Pray that you will be God’s lighthouse. Pray that you will be lucky enough to bring one lost soul safely into the harbor. Pray that you will be the beacon of light that never goes out. Light a candle and pray. Pray that grace will adorn your shoulders and faith will line your streets. Pray that you will be God’s vessel. Know that you are His precious child. Light a candle…Light a candle…and pray.

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Volume 4 Issue 2